Punk fashion

Following on from the ‘swinging sixties‘ came the ‘punk’ youth culture of the 1970s. Naturally, the aim was to shock the older generation, shake up attitudes and push society in a different direction. The fashion side of the punk movement vies with the music for its powerful, long-lasting influence.

Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010) and Vivienne Westwood (1941-2022) pioneered the fashion style in their boutique in King’s Road, Chelsea. Their product range evolved over the decade from  ‘Teddy-Boy’ and biker clothes to bondage gear, anarchist T-shirts and ripped jeans. The T-shirt designs were fully intended to be provocative, bearing swear words, pornography and perverse imagery, such as the Queen with a safety pin through her nose. This, however, did not prevent Westwood being made a Dame in 2006 (having previously been awarded an OBE, in 1992) “for services to fashion”.

Punk fashion, with its studs, body piercings, tattoos, spiked brightly-dyed hair, black eye make-up, rips and random zips, has nevertheless been absorbed into today’s looks. It has come a long way from dresses made of dustbin liners and safety pins, but let it not be said that the fashion industry doesn’t know a brave new innovation when it sees one.

(Top image [cropped]: Stuart Chalmers at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0)

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